By Ryan North, Erica Henderson & Rico Renzi
Another night in The Big Apple, another gang of hapless crooks driving off with their ill-gotten loot. Good thing that New York has Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage & Iron Fist, whoever is house sitting Avengers Mansion at the moment to protect it. So, wait, who is protecting the city this fine evening? Is it, Doreen Green, aka The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? That seems to be heroine the crooks are expecting. Instead, though, they are apprehended by Brain Drain, a brain in a jar affixed to a hulking robotic body. Brain Drain’s entry onto the scene is a wacky, off-kilter moment which also contains multiple types of meta (Erica Henderson’s art homages Action Comics #1’s iconic cover, while Ryan North’s footnotes continue his ongoing tutorial on computer programing). As wonky as this might sound, it all blends seamlessly together, demonstrating right off the bat that this will be another fantastic installment of this outstanding series.
Back in January Valiant launched a new solo min-series for Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr. This was great news for those of us who have been happily following her adventures ever since Joshua Dysart reintroduced her to readers in the pages of his Harbinger series. Two weeks ago, Valiant announced that demand for Faith had proven so strong that not only would her story be continuing, but it would be upgraded from a sequel mini to a new ongoing title. This is no small accomplishment, as Faith will be the first ongoing female solo title published by the current iteration of Valiant. As such, the new series, which will retain writer Jody Houser, represents another successful step forward for diversity in comics. However, it also points to another trend that has been occurring recently: a shift in the tone of storytelling. Ever since Alan Moore asked “Who Watches the Watchmen?” and Frank Miller pondered the last act of The Dark Knight’s career, the medium has been dominated by the grim and gritty archetype. At its height in the 90s, the prominence of such figures somehow achieved self-parody (cough, Az-Bats, cough) without losing their popularity. To this day, a new creative team’s pledge to “strip our hero down to nothing and see what makes him (or her) tick” is frequently cited as a fresh approach to counter lackluster storytelling. It’s not. Which does not mean that it cannot work, only that there is nothing groundbreaking about it. Instead, a new generation of heroines, including Zephyr, are helping redefine superheroes for a new generation of readers.
Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter’s recent $1 million donation to a charity associated with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sparked controversy. Some argued that this contribution from a top Marvel executive benefited a candidate whose politics do not reflect Marvel Comics’ ongoing efforts to be diverse in its content and appeal to comics readers. The controversy also generated interest in Perlmutter and his wife’s $2 million contribution to a political super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.
While the controversy focused on the politics of the candidates who benefited from Perlmutter’s contributions, one troubling aspect of these donations remains unexamined: the influence that wealthy individuals like Perlmutter can have on the U.S. election process, particularly through contributions to super PACs.
To explore this influence, just imagine that the Marvel Universe has the same U.S. campaign finance laws that we have in the real world, and let’s see how this impacts the hypothetical political activities of our favorite comics characters.
NBC’s year-end coverage kicks into full swing this week — yep, it’s list making time. Today I am offering my third annual look at which characters made the strongest impressions in 2015.
All entries are listed in alphabetical order.
0-0-0: This was probably one of the easiest pitches that Kieron Gillen has ever made: “evil 3-CPO”. The concept sells itself, right? What elevates the character above gimmick though is how well-executed it is. Despite some notable differences in ethical programming, 0-0-0 is very much a twin of the galaxy’s most famous protocol droid: deferential, thorough, proud of a job well-done and a bit cowering at times. Gillen evokes the mannerisms of 3-CPO so well that the reader cannot help but hear 0-0-0’s dialogue in Anthony Daniels’ familiar voice. This quality makes 0-0-0’s gleeful remarks about torture all the more chilling. It is also classic Gillen.
Continue reading This Year’s Finest 2015: The Most Memorable Characters of 2015
By Al Ewing, Gerardo Sandoval & Dono Sanchez Alamra
This week, the New Avengers join the All-New All-Different party (All-New All-Different New Avengers?). The term New Avengers was originally coined by Brian Michael Bendis for his team relaunch post-Dissembled. The label made sense then, and continued to do so during the schism of Civil War/The Initiative and the underground period of Dark Reign. Bendis kind of justified its continued existence post-Siege as Luke Cage’s “unofficial” Avengers (i.e. not answerable to authorities like S.H.I.E.LD.) but really the brand stopped making sense a long time ago. When you are simply one of half a dozen different Avengers teams on the market, what makes you the “New” one anyway? Jonathan Hickman gave New Avengers’ its own distinct identity though the designation seemed misplaced; was not Cap and Tony’s team the new one?
Ewing’s solution to the quandary appears to be a copious helping of youth, such as Hulking, Wiccan and Squirrel Girl. Yep, we now live in a world with an Avengers book co-staring Tippy-Toe. On paper that could be awesome. What better way to snap Billy out of one of his funks than the sound of “chitty chuk chuk?” In fact some of the best moments in the issue come from team member White Tiger’s inability to comprehend either Squirrel Girl or her trusted companion. Unfortunately these isolated character beats are not enough to carry the series debut.
Continue reading Review of New Avengers #1